In The News: Sonia O’Sullivan on Simone Biles’s Olympics decision

Irish Olympian says gymnast’s withdrawal in Tokyo was ‘a very mature thing to do’

 

“It’s amazing to see this happen on the biggest stage of all, right in the competition, to actually take the decision not to line up again,” says Irish Olympian and world champion runner Sonia O’Sullivan about US gymnast Simone Biles’s decision to withdraw from competing during the Tokyo Olympics.

Speaking on the latest episode of The Irish Times In The News podcast, O’Sullivan said: “It’s a very mature thing to do. But then, in the back of your mind, I’d be thinking: ‘What if?’”

A five-time medal winner at the last Olympics in Rio, Biles arrived in Tokyo as one of the competition’s brightest stars.

But as the women’s gymnastics team final approached on Tuesday evening in Japan, all was not well. Biles didn’t perform to her usual standard and decided to pull out after one rotation in the final, saying she wasn’t in a good place mentally.

She is the latest in a series of high-profile athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka, who have used their platforms to discuss their mental health struggles.

In this episode of In The News, we talk to Sonia O’Sullivan and Irish Times sports writer Malachy Clerkin about the new spotlight on mental health in sport.

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